1971: Freeze on wages and prices
- Budget deficit: $23 billion (2% of GDP)
- Total U.S. debt: $398.1 billion (34.2% of GDP)
In an effort to curb inflation, President Nixon put a 90-day freeze on all wages and prices in August. They went back to normal after his reelection.
1972: Nixon visits China
- Budget deficit: $23.4 billion (1.8% of GDP)
- Total U.S. debt: $427.3 billion (33.4% of GDP)
In February, Nixon became the first U.S. president to visit China. The same year, Hurricane Agnes blew through 15 states, leaving behind $3 billion in damages, and Ray Tomlinson invented email.
1973: Roe v. Wade
- Budget deficit: $14.9 billion (1% of GDP)
- Total U.S. debt: $458.1 billion (32.1% of GDP)
In a historic decision, the Supreme Court ruled to legalize abortion in the case of Roe v. Wade. The same year, the United States ended its war with Vietnam, the World Trade Center opened in New York City, and the Senate Watergate Committee began its hearings.
1974: President Nixon resigns
- Budget deficit: $6.1 billion (0.4% of GDP)
- Total U.S. debt: $475.1 billion (30.7% of GDP)
On Aug. 9, with impeachment proceedings underway, President Richard Nixon resigned his post as president, and Vice President Gerald Ford stepped in to take his place. The same year, Hank Aaron tied Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record, and the Universal Product Code (UPC) was scanned for the first time.
1975: Microsoft is founded
- Budget deficit: $53.2 billion (3.2% of GDP)
- Total U.S. debt: $533.2 billion (31.6% of GDP)
Bill Gates and Paul Allen started Microsoft in April 1975. The Rockefeller Commission, set up to investigate abuses within the CIA, recommended a congressional oversight committee on intelligence. And in Detroit, former Teamsters Union president Jimmy Hoffa went missing.
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1976: Apple Computer is founded
- Budget deficit: $73.7 billion (3.9% of GDP)
- Total U.S. debt: $620.4 billion (33.1% of GDP)
A year after the founding of Microsoft, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs started Apple Computer. The same year, the modern world’s deadliest earthquake struck Tangshan, China: The quake measured between 7.8 and 8.2 magnitude and killed more than 240,000 people. In November, Jimmy Carter became president.
1977: Energy Department
- Budget deficit: $53.7 billion (2.6% of GDP)
- Total U.S. debt: $698.8 billion (33.6% of GDP)
President Jimmy Carter signed legislation to form The Department of Energy, which joined together the government’s nuclear weapon program and its other energy-related programs. The same year, George Lucas’ “Star Wars” opened in theaters, and Elvis Presley held his last concert in Indianapolis.
1978: Camp David accords
- Budget deficit: $59.2 billion (2.5% of GDP)
- Total U.S. debt: $771.5 billion (32.8% of GDP)
After a secret meeting at Camp David, the presidential retreat, President Carter, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin signed the Camp David Accords. The purpose of the accords was to have Egypt and Israel sign a formal peace treaty, and establish diplomatic relations with one another. The same year, cult leader Jim Jones led 918 followers of the Peoples Temple to murder or suicide.
1979: Flight 191
- Budget deficit: $40.7 billion (1.6% of GDP)
- Total U.S. debt: $826.5 billion (31.5% of GDP)
When American Airlines Flight 191 lost its engine and crashed, just seconds after takeoff, at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, it became, and remains, the deadliest passenger airline accident on American soil. The same year, an intense windstorm in Washington sank a section of the Hood Canal Bridge, and Michael Jackson released his “Off the Wall” album, selling seven million copies in the United States.
1980: The Volcker Shock
- Budget deficit: $73.8 billion (2.6% of GDP)
- Total U.S. debt: $907.7 billion (31.8% of GDP)
Paul Volcker, chair of the Federal Reserve, was able to end double-digit inflation in 1980. In order to fight back against inflation, Volcker raised the federal funds rate from 10.25% to 20%, and kept it high until May of 1981. While it worked to end inflation, it also may be responsible for setting off the recession of 1981.
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